By Ruzanna Khachatrian
The pro-government majority in the Armenian parliament announced on Monday plans to double the salaries of the country’s most high-ranking state officials.
Under a relevant bill co-sponsored by lawmakers from the four political parties represented in the government, President Serzh Sarkisian would see his gross salary jump from 400,000 to 800,000 drams ($2,600) per month. Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian and parliament speaker Tigran Torosian would get 720,000 drams.
The monthly wage of the 130 other members of the National Assembly would be raised to 600,000 drams. Ministers and heads of other government agencies would get similar pay hikes.
The authors of the bill, which could be passed as early as this month, argued that the wages of the top state officials have not been raised for the past five years unlike those of civil servants, teachers, doctors and other public sector employees. They also presented it as being part of a broader public sector pay rise promised by the government.
“That process has to start from some place and we have rightly concluded that it should start from this bill,” said Aram Safarian of the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK). “I am convinced that before the end of the year we will discuss and pass bill increasing the salaries of all workers financed from the state budget,” he said.
Prime Minister Sarkisian said last month that his government will sharply raise the salaries of civil servants next year in order boost the “productivity” of its agencies. “If people get low salaries we lose our competitiveness. That means we can’t attract skilled specialists because they prefer the private sector,” he said.
The civil service salaries have steadily risen over the past decade, averaging almost 115,000 drams ($375) per month, or 37 percent higher than Armenia’s overall monthly wage, as of last February. According to the National Statistical Service, only Armenians working for financial services and mining firms boasted higher wages. By comparison, the average salary in the education sector stood at only 63,200 drams.
(Photolur photo: Aram Safarian.)